Aadhaar fails MGNREGS test in Telangana

The Aadhaar biometric authentication failure rate in MGNREGS is as high as 36% in Telangana


New Delhi: The Aadhaar biometric authentication failure rate in the ambitious rural job guarantee scheme is as high as 36% in Telangana, data collated by the state government shows.

Telangana is the first state to release such detailed data about the failure rates of Aadhaar payments, but analysts fear that this could be reflective of a nationwide trend.

This comes at a time when the government is moving swiftly to link all social security schemes and government benefit programmes with Aadhaar in an effort to plug leakages and ensure that the government payments reach the intended beneficiary.

The main reason for the payment failure in the operation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) was biometric mismatch, the data showed. Due to wear and tear of their fingers, rural labourers have failed the biometric authentication. And since iris scanners, largely because they are expensive, have not been deployed widely, workers have been denied wage payments due to them.

“I would say that this is due to human error in several blocks. The officials have been instructed to rectify the errors. This issue has been taken up with Telangana state officials as well as with other states and I am confident will be corrected soon,” said Aparajita Sarangi, joint secretary in the ministry of rural development in New Delhi.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues Aadhaar, declined comment.

However analysts were critical.

“This essentially shows that the Aadhaar technology is flawed specially when it comes to biometric mismatches. It is hurting the livelihood of the people. In case of ATMs, the failure rate is only 0.5%. But for Aadhaar authentication for MGNREGA wages and social security pensions, the failure rate is as high as 30%, which is completely unacceptable,” said Himanshu, associate professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

In 2016-17, the total provisional expenditure of both the centre and the states combined for MGNREGS was the highest at Rs58,056 crore. Out of the 101 million active workers under the MGNREGS, around 44 million workers are given payments through Aadhaar.

As per the official data put up on the Telengana government’s website, the authentication failure rate for Aadhaar-based transactions was at 36% for the period between January to till date; this was higher than the failure rate of 34% recorded in the October-December period last year.

In fact, the failure rates in the two districts of Adilabad and Wanarapathy was as high as 46% and 38% respectively in the period between 1 January and 6 April.

Himanshu pointed out that none of the developed countries are using this technology. “UK had similar technology model like that of Aadhaar, but they too have abandoned that completely,” he said.


[Copyright Prerna KapoorRemya NairElizabeth Roche]

One thought on “Aadhaar fails MGNREGS test in Telangana

  • April 7, 2017 at 7:02 pm
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    It could also mean that leakages amounting to 36% have been stopped. Doctrinaire opponents of Aadhar oppose without sufficient data or application of mind and sadly, academics also seem to fall in this trap. Far better research with granular data is required before coming to a valid conclusion either way.

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